Owls Host Southern Miss In Three-Game C-USA Series

March 26, 2015

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March 27 (Fri.) 6 pm; Southern Miss at Rice
Televised game on FOX Sports 2; (No online webcast)
RECENT ALUMNI SPECIAL - The Association of Rice Alumni and Rice Athletics invite recent alums to attend our Recent Alumni Happy Hour at Reckling Park. Join us at every Friday home game to enjoy Rice Baseball with fellow alums. The Happy Hour package includes your ticket to the game and a wristband for discounted beverage purchases in The Roost all evening long. For more information, call (713) 348-6930.
70's/DISCO NIGHT - Dress in your favorite bell bottoms and platforms because we're flashing back to the 1970's! We'll supply the Bee Gees on our eight-track player, so come disco with the Owls!
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March 28 (Sat.) 2 pm; Southern Miss at Rice
GENGHIS GRILL NIGHT - Our friends at the Genghis Grill host the Wayne Graham Radio Show every Monday night during the baseball season. Now they're making a road trip to come visit us at Reckling Park. Look for special Genghis Grill promotions during the game.
CAMP REUNION DAY - Little leaguers all over the city love our annual baseball summer camps. Now they're coming back for a special Baseball Camp Reunion Day at Reckling Park. All our campers receive FREE admission to the game and can bring their families and friends for a great low rate. To claim your camper ticket and purchase additional tickets, please call the marketing office at (713) 348-3094.
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March 29 (Sun.) 1 pm; Southern Miss at Rice
BREAST CANCER AWARENESS DAY - Wear pink and help the Owls raise awareness in the fight against breast cancer! Portions of ticket proceeds will go to Susan G. Komen Houston.
RICE OWLS KIDS CLUB DAY - Owls Kids Club members can receive a free ticket to this game with their membership. Enjoy inflatable, games and more in the Kids Zone. Click here for more information on the Owls Kids Club!
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The Rice baseball team, 17-10 overall and 7-2 in Conference USA action, hosts league foe Southern Miss in a three-game weekend series March 27-29. Friday's first pitch vs. the Golden Eagles (14-8-1, 3-2) is scheduled for 6 pm, and is set for a live television broadcast by FOX Sports 2. Start time for Saturday is 2 pm, with Sunday's series finale at 1 pm.

The Last Meeting
Southern Miss8
April 27, 2014
Hattiesburg, Miss.
Baseball Team Falls In Sunday's Series Finale at Southern Miss, 8-6
Rice collected double-digit hits and was able to score in six different innings, but Southern Miss claimed an 8-6 win over the visiting Owls in the finale of the C-USA weekend series Sunday afternoon in Hattiesburg, Miss.

It's T.V. Time Friday Night
Friday's game has been selected for a live television broadcast. Fox Sports 2, a leader in televising collegiate competitions across the country, is bringing the Rice-Southern Miss clash to the nation. Broadcast veterans Ron Thulin and former Owl Pat Combs (Lovett College) have the TV call Friday night.

Game Day Parking
Rice University is in the early stages of building the new Moody Center for the Arts adjacent to Reckling Park. Like any major construction project, a host of changes to the old routine are now under way. There is a charge for game day parking, with the lone exception being FREE parking in the Greenbriar Lot on the west side of Rice Stadium (football). Fans may purchase season or individual-game parking passes by calling the ticket office at 713-348-6957. Limited complimentary parking and other game day benefits are also available by supporting Rice student-athletes with a gift to the Owl Club.

Watch The Saturday & Sunday Games On OwlVision All Access
Fox Sports 2 has the broadcast covered for Friday night. The Saturday and Sunday games of the Southern Miss series are slated for a live on-line video broadcast by OwlVision All Access. OwlVision is a subscription-based service which matches the play-by-play audio with a video feed to create a television-like broadcast on the Internet (either live or in an archived format). Information about the service and subscription prices are available at RiceOwls.com. Note that this Friday's game will not be on OwlVision due to the FOX Sports 1 broadcast.

Audio Broadcasts - Catch Every Rice Baseball Game On The Web
Every Rice baseball game this season is scheduled for a live audio broadcast around the world on the Internet at RiceOwls.com. Tune-in to the pregame show 15 minutes before each game's first pitch. Fans attending home games can listen to the Rice broadcast at Reckling Park via an FM proximity transmitter. The FM frequencies for the in-stadium broadcasts at Reckling Park is 99.7 FM. J.P. Heath is back for his seventh season as the regular voice of the Owls. Fellow Rice broadcasters like Alex Del Barrio and Gerald Sanchez are also scheduled to do selected games over the course of the season.

Follow The Tweeting Rice Owls
The official Rice baseball Twitter account is @RiceOwlsBSB while the Rice Athletics department is @RiceOwlsdotcom. Twitter is perhaps the fastest way to get weather-related changes to the schedule/updated start times.

Live Stats On GameTracker
Links to live play-by-play text and statistics from every home game are posted on RiceOwls.com. Look for the GameTracker links on the Rice Athletics front page, the weekly series preview, the baseball schedule page.

98th Season On The Baseball Diamond
Rice Owl baseball made its debut in the spring of 1913, just one semester after the school (then The Rice Institute) opened its doors for higher education in the fall of 1912. The 2015 season is, however, only the Owls' 99th season playing on the diamond. The school cancelled its baseball season in 1919 and did not field a team for three years (1933-35) during the Great Depression. Rice returned to the diamond in the spring of 1936 and has been playing ever since. The Rice baseball program's all-time record is 1,963 - 1,538 - 9.

National Rankings Update • Owls Hold Top 20 Spots
Rice baseball is respected enough to hold a Top 20 national ranking in a host of different college baseball polls. The Owls are No. 14 in two polls, and in the Top 20 of six overall. Here's a closer look at some of the latest national rankings, and changes from last week (as available at press time):
Poll Current Previous
College Sports Madness 11 7
NCBWA 14 8
D1Baseball.com 14 8
Baseball America 14 10
CollegeBaseballDaily.com 15 7
USA Today/ESPN 15 8
Collegiate Baseball Magazine nr 15
PerfectGame.com nr 22

Head Coach Wayne Graham
Four-time national coach of the year and 2012 College Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Wayne Graham (Texas, 1970) is in his 24th season at Rice. The 2015 campaign marks his 35th year as a collegiate head coach... He is now 1,056-430 with the Owls (630-158 at home, 329-211 on the road and 97-61 at neutral sites). His Rice winning percentage is .711, the best in school history. Another way of looking at Graham's .711 win percentage is that it is the equivalent of a major league team winning 115 games in a single year... Graham's record vs. this weekend's opponent is: 21-11 vs Southern Miss... Under Graham, the Owls clinched another postseason bid in 2014, making 20-straight seasons for Rice to earn an NCAA appearance. The Blue & Gray has advanced into the NCAA tournament in 1995-96-97-98-99-00-01-02-03-04-05-06-07-08-09-10-11-12-13-14. The 2003 bid culminated with the Owls' first national championship... Rice played in the 1994-95-96 Southwest Conference tournaments (winning the final league title in `96), won the 1997-98-99 WAC tournaments, shared the 2000 WAC title with San Jose State before winning the 2001-02-03-04-05 titles outright. He won (or shared) C-USA regular season crowns in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, as well as the C-USA tournament championships in `06, `07, `09, `11, `13 and `14... Graham was named the WAC Coach of the Year in 1998, `99, `02 and the Co-Coach of the Year in `03. He was named the Keith LeClair C-USA Coach of the Year in `06, his first year in the league, and again in `07, `08, `10 and `11... Rice has seven appearances in the NCAA College World Series under Graham (1997, `99, `02, `03, `06, `07, `08)... Graham has led the Owls to number-one rankings for seven weeks during the 1999 season, for six weeks during the `01 campaign, two weeks in `02, six weeks in 2003 (the last of which established some staying power), three weeks in 2004, 12 weeks in 2006 and five weeks in `07... Graham's San Jacinto Gators dominated the NJCAA World Series in Grand Junction, Colo., in the 1980s, winning five national titles in six years (1985-86-87, 89-90)... The Austin American-Statesman named Graham its SWC Coach of the Year in `95 after he led the Owls to their first NCAA tournament appearance... Collegiate Baseball was especially cognizant of Graham's efforts at San Jac. He was named the newspaper's Coach of the Decade for all levels in the 1980s after winning those five junior college national titles, and CB tabbed him the NJCAA Coach of the Century... He was named the 2007 Division I college Coach of the Year by FieldTurf... One of the few current collegiate coaches to have played in the major leagues (N.Y. Mets in 1963, Philadelphia in 1964), Graham is aided by assistant coaches Patrick Hallmark (Rice, 1995, Brown College; tenth year), Clay Van Hook (Texas, 2008; fourth year) and Scott Shepperd (Concordia, 2007; third year)... On game days Van Hook coaches at third base while Shepherd coaches at first.

1,631 Wins • A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 1,056 Division I wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,631 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall "collegiate record" is 1,631-543 in a 33-year coaching career that began in 1981.

Starting Pitchers
Coach Graham announced Rice's probable starting pitchers for the Southern Miss series as junior right-hander Kevin McCanna (2-2, 3.38) on Friday, followed by junior left-hander Blake Fox (2-0, 3.98) on Saturday, and right-handed redshirt junior Jordan Stephens (2-1, 1.88) on Sunday.
Kevin McCanna is a veteran with 39 appearances in his collegiate career, including 23 starting assignments. In five starts this year facing the Friday night pitchers from Texas, Arizona, Stanford Charlotte, LA Tech and Old Dominion, McCanna owns a 3.38 ERA in 32.0 innings of work. He has held opposing batters to a composite .279 average with 7.9 strikeouts per 9.0 innings, and maintained a 2.2-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio... A year ago McCanna finished second on the team, and eighth in Conference USA, in both victories (8) and innings pitched (93.2). He pitched into the seventh inning in 7-of-12 starts, with one of the early departures at 6.0 innings vs. Purdue after the Owls had built a comfortable 20-3 lead. The Woodlands, Texas, native averaged 6.2 innings and held opponents to a .247 batting average as a starter. McCanna also averaged a 6.3 strikeouts per 9.0 innings and maintained a 2.7-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. He began 2014 as the "Sunday" pitcher in the weekend rotation (in addition to four relief appearances and one midweek start), before being promoted to a new "Friday night" role for the remainder of the year. McCanna thrived as the series-opening pitcher, winning 5-of-7 outings while maintaining a steady 1.76 ERA with a 1.04 WHIP in 51.0 innings. He was the opening pitcher in the C-USA Tournament and held heavy-hitting FIU to a pair of runs over 7.1 innings. The righty then returned just four days later to pitch another 4.0 frames in relief in the Championship Final against a UTSA squad that defeated him in the regular season. The former TWHS Highlander had a good case to be named to the league's all-tournament team, going 2-0 with a composite 2.38 ERA for 11.1 total innings (but was somehow overlooked by the voting attending members of the media). McCanna started the Owls' opening game of the NCAA Regional against Atlantic 10 Conference champion George Mason, where he allowed just one earned run on three hits with five strikeouts over 7.1 innings in a no-decision. He fired a complete game, 9.0 inning shutout in the opener of a key C-USA series against league runner-up UAB, propelling his team to a three-game sweep of the Blazers. It's worth noting that with the sweep the Owls went on to win the C-USA regular season crown over that same UAB team by exactly three games. It's equally notable the 9-inning gem was not McCanna's longest outing of the season. Rice has had dozens and dozens of complete games pitched the last few years, but in a March 8 start against eventual NCAA Tournament-bound Old Dominion, McCanna went 9.1 innings for the longest outing by an Owl pitcher in more than a decade.
A host of news organizations have a preseason All-America team leading up to the 2015 campaign, and Blake Fox was on just about every one of them. In five starts this year Fox is 2-0 and averaging just under 5.1 innings per outing... The Owls' junior left-hander is undefeated in his Rice career, posting a perfect 20-0 record in a total of 41 appearances dating back to his freshman season of 2013. One of three finalists for the 2014 National Pitcher of the Year by the College Baseball Hall of Fame, Fox responded to his new role in the weekend rotation with aplomb - winning 12-of-15 "Saturday starts" while maintaining a steady 1.46 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP. He was the first Owl to win 12 games in a single season since 2006. The former prep standout from nearby Episcopal HS finished fifth in the nation, and led C-USA, in victories. Fox was 13th in Division I, and second in the league, in ERA. Fox also ranked among the C-USA leaders in starts (third, 15), hits-per-9 innings (9th, 7.57), strikeouts (11th, 69) and WHIP (11th). His wins were over eventual College World Series participant TCU at Minute Maid Park, nationally ranked Stanford and FIU on the road, Southern Miss, East Carolina, UTSA, FAU, Tulane, LA Tech, Purdue and Middle Tennessee (twice). He pitched into the seventh inning in 14-of-15 starts, with the lone exception being 5.1 innings against Purdue where the Owls had already built a 7-1 advantage by the 6th (and went on to win 9-1). Fox went a career-long 8.1 innings on the road at Tulane where he tied a career-best with eight strikeouts. He held all opponents to a .236 batting average and maintained a 2.6-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. In a preseason poll of the 12 C-USA head coaches, Fox was named the 2015 C-USA Pitcher of Year. Pitching was only part of the story, however. Fox is a versatile enough athlete that in 2014 he made seven additional appearances either as a first baseman, designated hitter or pinch hitter (against right-handed pitching).
After being sidelined most of last season, Jordan Stephens has been tabbed to make his first C-USA start in two years on Sunday. The redshirt junior from Alvin, Texas, made his sixth relief appearance last Sunday at Old Dominion where he earned the win in a season-long 3.2 innings. Stephens scattered two hits without any walks while striking out a season-high six at ODU. Earlier that week he also made his first start in more than a year at Houston (March 17). Slowly working the veteran back into the mix has paid-off. So far in 14.1 innings Stephens has held all hitters to a composite .191 batting average with 12.6 strikeouts per nine innings. His strikeouts-to-walks ratio is 6.7-to-1. A start Sunday would be the 30th of his collegiate career. He needs just 25 more strikeouts to reach 200 as a Rice Owl.

Solid In C-USA Regular Season
Since its first Conference USA baseball campaign in the spring of 2006, Rice's regular-season record in C-USA league games is 176-55 (.762).

Winning Is Always In Fashion
For the fashion-minded, Rice's 2015 W-L records while wearing the various uniforms is as follows:
6-1 in the white `birds' top
5-1 in blue tops with pinstripe pants,
3-2 in all-white,
2-3 in the gray `birds' top
1-2 in all-gray,
0-1 in the home alternate (`Old English R')



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